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Fun Facts about Duke Ellington

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Did You Know?
Did you know that this famous American composer and jazz player wasn't really called Duke? This was a nickname given to him by a childhood friend. Read our interesting facts below to find out what his real name was, when he was born and died, what his first job was and how he began his career in world of jazz.

Fun Fact 1 Duke Ellington was born Edward Kennedy Ellington on April 29th, 1899. He died on the 24th May 1974.

Fun Fact 2 Duke Ellington was born in Washington DC in the United States of America, he is famously known as a pool piano player and he became one of the greatest figures in American jazz.

Fun Fact 3: Duke was a nickname given to him as a child by a friend. It derived from his elegance, good manners and dress sense.

Fun Fact 4: Duke Ellington died in New York City after falling incredibly ill. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer and caught pneumonia. He was buried in the Bronx and his memorial service was attended by more than 12,000 people.

Fun Fact 5: Duke Ellington was awarded 12 Grammy Awards, his won his first one in 1959 and he received the Life Time Achievement Award in 1966.

Fun Fact 6: In 1986, a United States Commemorative stamp was issued with Duke Ellington's image on it.

Fun Fact 7: From 1923 to 1974, he lead an orchestra. The orchestra is still performing to the present day and it is called 'The Duke Ellington Orchestra'.

Fun Fact 8: Duke's mother was called Daisy Kennedy Ellington and his father was James Edward Ellington. Both of his parents were pianists and they encouraged Duke to learn how to play piano at the age of seven. He didn't enjoy playing the instrument so he gave it up.

Fun Fact 9: Duke attended the Armstrong Technical High School in Washington DC. His first job was selling peanuts at the Washington Senators baseball games.

Fun Fact 10: In September 1923, Duke Ellington became part of the Hollywood Club for four years. The club gave him a solid base where he could live and work. in 1924, he became the band leader.

Fun Fact 11: Duke Ellington married his high school sweetheart. Her name was Edna Thompson and they had one son together who was named Mercer Kennedy Ellington. He was born on March 11th, 1919. Edna sadly passed away in 1967.

Fun Fact 12: Duke Ellington carried out his last performance on March 20th, 1974. His final performance took place at Northern Illinois University.

Fun Fact 13: In 1929, Duke Ellington appeared in a short film called 'Black and Tan'. He went onto star in several short films during the 1930s.

Fun Fact 14: Stevie Wonder wrote a song in 1976 as a tribute to Duke. The song was called "Sir Duke".

Fun Fact 15: During Duke's early years, he would sit watching and listening to pianists, he had private lessons from his music teacher at the time who was called Henry Lee Grant.

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